I was recently in Phoenix for a long weekend. It was somewhat of a bustling, nonstop visit. We went to celebrate the wedding of some very special friends, and it was a fabulous wedding if I do say so. We also spent the weekend catching up with many friends we hold near and dear to our hearts; it has been quite a while since we have seen many of them. Needless to say, there was lots of catching up and lots of memories revisited of many all too familiar places. We experienced loads of laughter, encountered smiling faces, and tears of happiness were shed. It was a great trip overall.
While we were in Phoenix I met up with another baker I have known for quite a while. Between catching up on life and which chefs / foodies you should be following on Instagram, Yotam Ottolenghi became the topic. I was explaining how I love the photos he posts and she in turn was telling me how her daughter-in-law has made almost all the recipes in his cook book "Jerusalem." I too have the book and was telling her about how we love the recipe for the beet puree. It should be no surprise that by the time we were back in Seattle I was making my modified version Ottolenghi’s recipe for beet puree again! It really is that good.
Besides the fact that this puree it boldly flavored with a spicy chili and mellowed every so slightly with yogurt, it is stunning to look at. The deep colored red beets transform into this gorgeous garnet hued puree. This beet puree is seasoned with za’atar and accompanies so many things perfectly well it is amazing. I have used this puree as a dip for some raw veggies, spread it on some pita topped with feta, and have dolloped it on top of potato pancakes. It goes with just about anything - maybe that is why I love it so? This time, while I was making it to accompany some zucchini pancakes, I was thinking of all this wonderful people I have gotten to know in Phoenix and proud to call my friends. I miss their company, but maybe if they visit I will make them some of this beet puree. (On another note: Ottolenghi is a culinary genius, and I thank him for his endless creativity…thank you for this recipe!)
Beet Puree (serves 6)
*Note - my adaptation from the cookbook "Jerusalem", by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi
**Note - You can search for the recipes of Zucchini Pancakes or Potato Pancakes though my sight above if you may want them..
2 pounds beets
2 cloves of garlic, trimmed and crushed
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped
1 cup (rounded) greek yogurt
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for plating
1 tbsp za’atar, plus more for plating
sea salt to taste
First, place your beets in a 400 degree oven and bake until they are tender when a knife is inserted easily into it the center of each beet. (Should take about 1 hour or more). Remove from the oven and allow for them to cool.
Next, once the beets are cool enough to handle trim and peel the beets. Place the beets, garlic, chili, and yogurt in a food processor and blend it all together until smooth. Once smooth, remove the mixture to a large bowl and stir it together with the balsamic, olive oil, and the za’atar. Add a little bit of sea salt and taste to adjust your seasoning to your liking.
Finally, transfer the mixture to a serving plate. Drizzle the beet puree with a bit of olive oil and some za’atar. You can serve right away, but you can place in a refrigerator (wrapped tightly) and keep for up to 4 days if needed.